My Reality Is Not Your Reality

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    • #22605

      Stumbled upon an interesting article and thought of sharing it here. This article talks about how we perceive reality. It gets particularly interesting if one has some background on Buddha Dhamma when reading such a write-up. It primes our mind to see things from a different perspective than would a normal person.

      Here are 2 parts of the article that I would like to quote.

      “Brain research is proving this without a doubt. Each of us experience the world uniquely influenced by our physical brain function, our past memories and experiences as well as present conditions. People see what they expect to see and remember what they expect to remember because of their brain’s perceptual bias.”

      From a Buddha Dhamma’s perspective, we know that it’s the 5 aggregates at work. But I would think also kamma vipaka influences the way we perceive reality. This is more evident in the second quote.

      “Even seeing something with your own eyes is not necessarily “the truth.” If three different people witness a single event, there are going to be three accounts of it which can sometimes vary greatly. Research is proving that our memories are not reliable recordings of what actually happened. Our memories are imperfect copies of the past colored by our brain’s perception. A memory is only as accurate as the last time it was remembered.”

      Let’s say there is a glass of drinkable water in front of us. A normal person with a healthy vision under normal circumstances would see the glass of water as just a glass of water. However, the preta and deva might not see it so. Because of the bad kamma that the preta did in his past life, he might see it as flames and he couldn’t drink it. Similarly, that same glass of water might appear as ambrosia to the deva. Which implies kamma vipaka shapes our reality! Reality is a crazy thing really.

      At the beginning of the article, the author puts it succinctly that we should not impose our belief onto others who do not see it from our point of view. I see myself walking on this path for quite some time now. Looking back, I could see how far I have progressed. It’s like I have made it to the base camp of Mount Everest and I could clearly see the summit. There is more work to be done to get to the summit. But there is no way I would turn my back and return home until I get to my final destination. When I tried to explain the Dhamma to other people who do not have the same belief and understanding as me, and they even displayed a nonchalant attitude towards it, I can only pity them inside my heart, thinking “I could have helped you.” I have learned to lend a helping hand whenever I could but I must also let go on such people if the situation calls for it. We should never cheapen the Dhamma. For it’s only letting go can we find true liberation.

    • #22617

      Yes. This is discussed in, “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)“. Especially see #12.

      However, those memories are not stored in the brain, even though the brain is needed to “extract those memories”; see, “The Amazing Mind – Critical Role of Nāmagotta (Memories)“.

    • #22618
      y not


      -I can only pity them inside my heart, thinking “I could have helped you.” –

      Dhamma is not only the greatest gift, it is also the one most difficult to give. You will learn that in nearly all cases it will be wasted effort. You can tell by the look in their eyes when people are not interested. How can they be? A two-year-old’s eyes will light up on seeing a colourful toy not the cover of a book. They are just not ready for it.

      Send out ‘feelers’ whenever the urge to talk about Dhamma arises in you, or when a conversation is taking place where It would fit in as a follow-up. Since coming across Dhamma myself,in 20 months I have made reference to It with only a handful of people, seven or so at most, and only once did I get the feeling that the other was listening -but this one, a teenager, happened to be already into Zen, so there was a basis for at least making reference to the Buddha’s original Teaching and to instil the urge in him to look into That for comparison, all the while taking great care not to force anything on him, judging, condemning, in the way of ‘this is the true Buddhism, that is the wrong one’. He will come to that realization himself, and even then, if and when he is ready for it.

      You may pity them, but even that is wasted. Just radiate Metta to them as well, as you do with all other beings. Do not exclude them. Still, in real terms they are receiving nothing. The value and benefits of Metta are to yourself alone. So there can be no end to this pity. The practical thing to do is to share merits with everyone without exception.

      • #22619

        Well said y not! Fully agreed.

    • #22621

      Johnny, y not,

      That is why even The Buddha Himself hesitated to teach the Dhamma, as He knew that the Dhamma was hard to understand.

      • #22624

        Hi firewns,

        Aren’t we so fortunate to encounter Buddha Dhamma in this life? The year is 2019 and yet we have the great fortune to come across the true teachings of the Buddha. Many thanks to the ariyas who brought back the true Dhamma. Still giving me the goosebumps thinking of it!

        • #22626

          Hi Johnny,

          Yes, you are right. We are indeed very fortunate indeed.

          Many people still think anicca means impermanence. Yet many things do not perish within the span of a human lifetime. Mountains and rivers are such examples.

          The meaning of inconstancy would be closer to the mark. For even during the timespan that they are in existence, they are subject to unexpected change (viparinama). For example, the waters flowing through a river now are not the same waters that flowed through it minutes ago. Exactly which waters flow through depend upon any obstacles that lie in the path of the waters upstream, such as pebbles and rocks and whirlpools. Rocks and pebbles can also be eroded, leading to the formation of new obstacles or to the removal of existing ones, which further affect which waters will flow through in the future.

          Yet even the understanding of inconstancy may not quite hit the mark. For example, even though we know that the waters of a river are inconstant, surely that does not bother us. It is when we consider things closer to our desires that the understanding strikes a chord within us.

          Phenomena and things in this world cannot be maintained to our satisfaction in the long run. This understanding is what truly matters to us. It also incorporates the above meanings of impermanence and inconstancy, yet it goes deeper than that to what truly exposes us to suffering. (For our wrong views that things in this world can be maintained to our satisfaction in the long run if we just put in enough effort are so pervasive, insidious, subtle, disempowering and restrictive that just accepting the meanings of impermanence or inconstancy alone would not be sufficient to shatter these illusions.) When we understand this deeply and intimately, we will stop being so depressed with the unsatisfactory nature of existence. We would reduce our craving and grasping, our longing and aversion, our fears and anxieties. We will start to see the futility and danger of clinging to anything in this world. Then we may glimpse the benefits of searching for and embarking on a way out of existence.

          Many people also think that anatta is not-self. The Buddha stated that there was not any Self in rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana. However He did not just state that. He also stated that these things were subject to unexpected change and could not be controlled. Therefore, I like to think that anatta does not just mean not-self. It also means something that is without control and without any abiding essence. As such it cannot offer any refuge and cannot deliver us from suffering. Surely it is better to have a more general, all-encompassing understanding than just a specific one that may not be applicable to all cirumstances.

          This is what I understand.

          • #22630

            Perhaps in modern language, the way I see a worldly being entrapped in sansara is akin to a catch-22 situation. The wordly being does not know that he is in such a predicament, especially those who are indulging themselves heavily in sensual pleasures. They don’t know that sensual pleasures can only be realised if and only if the premise is dukkha. If they don’t go looking for dukkha, how do they enjoy the sensual pleasures through the temporary relief from dukkha? How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to learn the method Lord Buddha discovered to rig the system! Imagine if the Buddha did not discover the method to rig sansara, we are all screwed!

            A sotapanna has clearly seen the priceless value in this rigging method and places unshakable faith in using this method to get out of sansara. Whereas the worldly being cannot leave the prison they entrapped themselves in because they themselves are the prison!

            • #22633


              I mostly agree with you. There is one part though that I would like to comment on.

              You wrote: If they don’t go looking for dukkha, how do they enjoy the sensual pleasures through the temporary relief from dukkha?

              Although sensual pleasures may provide relief from the acute physical and mental pain of dukkha dukkha, they do not provide relief from viparinama dukkha and sankhara dukkha.

              Beings mostly need to put in effort to enjoy sensual pleasures. This effortful work is sankhara dukkha, although it is masked by the immediate enjoyment.

              Beings may also get used to or tired of the sensual pleasures with time. Then they need to have more and more of these sensual pleasures, or other types of sensual pleasures to stimulate themselves again. These pleasures may also get interrupted or end abruptly. Thus both the beings as well as the pleasures they enjoy are subject to unexpected change. This is viparinama dukkha.

              In fact, this is why even the Brahmas and devas, although they live supremely or very blissful lives, still experience dukkha. There is nowhere in the thirty-one realms that is free of dukkha, as you will agree.

            • #22635

              This is also why Siddharta rejected the notion that the arupa jhanas connected to the realm of nothingness and the realm of neither perception nor non-perception (as taught to him by two of his teachers before he attained enlightenment) provided the final release from dukkha. There was still something disturbing about these states, which correspond to the experiences of arupa Brahmas in the two highest, most sublime and blissful realms of existence.

    • #22622


      It is good to see you back posting at the forum. I sincerely hope that you are at least feeling better, as I am sure many readers at the forum hope likewise.

      Please do let us know when you are ready to answer questions again. But do not tire yourself out, as you need plenty of rest. There is no hurry. When you are feeling better, I would like to ask you a question related to micca ditthi. I will always be grateful for your kind guidance. It has indeed been very helpful and beneficial to learn from you.

    • #22623

      Perhaps I should not hesitate to ask my question. I have always felt that the seeking of answers to Dhamma is important and urgent. Lal, please leave the question aside if you are not yet ready to answer it. I will definitely understand.

      You have mentioned before that it is meritorious to offer fruits and perhaps other food to devas, as the devas can manifest much more quantities of the food for their underlings. But what about the offering of flowers, incense and lights in certain East Asian countries? Can the scent of flowers and incense serve as food for devas as well? What about lights?

      In addition, many Chinese burn joss money, miniature paper houses, clothes and cars for their dead relatives, thinking that their relatives will receive them as real life-sized houses, clothes and cars and money.

      However, after reading the suttas in the Tipitaka, I have not read about The Buddha saying that such practices will benefit their dead relatives. However The Buddha has said that dana whose merits are dedicated to dead relatives will benefit only those relatives who are born as pretas, not those who are born as human beings, animals, hell beings or devas. The above practices of burning offerings do not seem to me to be correctly classified as dana though. Am I wrong to think so?

      Knowing that this is a sensitive issue, I would still appreciate it very much if you could shed some light on this.

      Thank you very much in advance for your answers.

    • #22625

      Thank you, firewns.

      I need more rest than I used to. So, it may take some time to be “back to normal”. However, I participating in the forum discussions is not a problem.

      Your question needs a long explanation. It may be better to write a post on that and it may take several days.

    • #22627

      Firewns said:

      “Phenomena and things in this world cannot be maintained to our satisfaction in the long run. This understanding is what truly matters to us. It also incorporates the above meanings of impermanence and inconstancy, yet it goes deeper than that to what truly exposes us to suffering”.

      Yes, i agree. The sutta’s also make clear this is also true for certain produced states, such as jhana and also the Brahma Vihara’s. They are produced, and anything produced will cease. The sutta’s also make clear that anybody who is firm in this, will reach the ending of asava (MN52 en AN11.16).

      So we can produce states but in the end these produced states can also not be a refuge.

      However, sutta’s are also very clear that developing and cultivating such states as jhana and the Brahma Vihara’s is very advantageous, merotious. Though, in the end, anything conditionally produced cannot be a safe refuge.

      Seeing this, what is wise? Not being intent on producing any state? Be firm in that? Or, still, from time to time, being intent on producing states? We do not have to be afraid of merit the Buddha also says.


      • #22638


        In one of the suttas, if I remember correctly, Rev Ananda explains to a female human being something along the lines of:

        1) Although we should not get attached to nutriment (food), yet we can make use of nutriment to release us from sansara. (Nutriment provides us with the energy to maintain our bodies so that we can work towards Nibbana).

        2) Although we should not get attached to desire, yet we can make use of desire to release us from sansara. (We can desire to attain Nibbana).

        3) Although we should not get attached to pride, yet we can make use of pride to release us from sansara.

        4) Yet although we are born of sexuality, we can never make use of sexuality to release us from sansara.

        Living in the conditioned world, sustained by and relying on conditioned things, we have no choice but to use some of these very same conditioned things in our strivings to attain Nibbana. There is simply no other practical way to go about it.

    • #22636

      Firewns asked: “You have mentioned before that it is meritorious to offer fruits and perhaps other food to devas, as the devas can manifest much more quantities of the food for their underlings. But what about the offering of flowers, incense and lights in certain East Asian countries? Can the scent of flowers and incense serve as food for devas as well? What about lights?”

      I was going to write a post, but thought of just providing the key ideas first. In the end, it may be good idea to write a post after further discussion and inputs by others. I had written previously (at the discussion forum) about how offerings to devas are actually “consumed” by them, but I cannot find it. If someone finds it please post a link so that I don’t need to re-write that part in a future post.

      1. The key point is that those “offerings” are not made just for devas.

      – There are many kinds of offerings: meals to the bhikkhus are the most meritorious among the “giving” (dāna) category. Giving to poor or anyone in need and even feeding hungry animals are all meritorious deeds.
      – Making offerings to devas is just another category. As you mentioned, I had discussed that before. The mechanism of how that works is hard to visualize for us. I don’t need to re-write that and if anyone remember that post, please provide a link. That would help me writing a post in the future.

      2. Offering flowers, incense, etc do not belong to that “dāna” category, even though many people make such “offerings” to devas, especially in Hindu temples.

      – In Buddhist temples, such “offerings” are made to the Buddha.
      – In reality, these “offerings of the second kind” setup the necessary background for the mind to grasp the Buddha Dhamma, and thus to lead to “bhava uddha” (stopping existences in any of the 31 realms), which is the real meaning of “Buddha”; see, “A Buddhist or a Bhauddhaya?“.

      3. For example, those flowers symbolize the anicca nature. They are pretty when they offered, but in a couple of days they become wrinkled and eventually wither away. The idea is not to admire the beauty of the flowers, but to contemplate on the anicca nature clearly displayed by the decay of those flowers.

      – The incense offered emit an odor that conducive to mediation. Even though it is a pleasing odor, it is very different from those fragrances that one wears to a party, which has the tendency to encourage “seeking sense pleasures”.
      – In other words, those fragrances worn to a party leads to sensual thoughts, whereas the smell of incenses is conducive to meditation, since it helps calm the mind.

      4. Lighting of candles of oil lamps also provide a suitable background for meditation and contemplation. Light symbolizes wisdom.

      – Comprehending Buddha Dhamma leads to the opening of the “Dhamma eye”, and enables one to “see the true nature of the world of 31 realms”, i.e., existence in ANY of those realms is NOT devoid of suffering.
      – Furthermore, an oil lamp symbolizes the how the rebirth process is maintained by cravings. Just as oil keeps an oil lamp burning, cravings (tanhā) fuel the rebirth process.

      5. When I was child in Sri Lanka, our family used to go to the temple regularly, especially on Full Moon days when bhikkhu would deliver a discourse (desana).

      – We would go to the temple ahead the delivery of the desana, and would offer flowers to the Buddha, light some oil lamps and incense, and recite several gathas while make those “offerings”. Then we would sit and listen to an hour-long desana by a bhikkhu.
      – That really helps calm the mind and get in to a mindset where one is able to forget about the day-to-day stresses and comprehend the desana.

      6. That is a brief introduction. This is a topic to be discussed in more detail. For example, some people question the practice of “worshipping” Bo trees, stupas, or statues of the Buddha.

      – In reality, it is not “worship” or “pay homage” to inanimate objects. One is paying homage to the Buddha, and cultivating a calm mindset in order to grasp the deep Dhamma that the Buddha taught in order to get to the “bhava uddha” or Buddha state.
      – Furthermore, those aspects have nothing to do with making offerings to devas.

      • #22639

        Lal, I think the link you are referring to is this: Mahā Cattārisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty).

        In it, you wrote:

        A better statement would be “respecting and making offerings to those with higher virtues has no merits”.

        That is what was in the post, “Micchā Ditthi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage“, and I have revised it in the post you referred to.

        “Those with higher virtues” could be human or devas.

        Of course, devas do not need our food, for example. Making offerings there is a gesture, done with good intentions.
        – However, I remember listening to a desana by Waharaka Thero, where he mentioned that those food offerings can be used by higher devas to feed their underlings (there are different levels, just like in the human world).
        – He mentioned that when people offer nice-smelling fruits etc, just after the offering, the aroma would be gone (if it is done right). That means the “essence” (oja) of the food has been extracted.
        – However, one does not need to offer large quantities. The higher devas can make the offering to “multiply” to feed many.
        – I don’t want to get into that issue right now. This is not a critical issue, but could be beneficial.
        – This is just like giving (dana) cannot directly lead to magga phala, but can help set the background.

        But we should ALWAYS give merits to ALL BEINGS.

      • #22651

        Lal said:”That is a brief introduction. This is a topic to be discussed in more detail. For example, some people question the practice of “worshipping” Bo trees, stupas, or statues of the Buddha”.

        About the stupa, i read something in DN16§5.11 (translation Walshe)

        -“A stupa should be erected at the crossroads for the Tathagata. And whoever lays wreaths or puts sweet perfumes and colours there with a devout heart, will reap benefit and happiness for a long time”.

    • #22652

      Thank you, firewns and Siebe!

      There is another sutta which describes how planting of Bo trees was recommended by the Buddha himself:
      When the Buddha was absent from Jetavanarama devotees naturally missed him, so Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant, asked the Buddha what in his absence might be used to pay homage to him.
      – The Buddha answered that bodily relics, things reminiscent of him and things that he had used, in particular the great Bodhi Tree under which he had attained Enlightenment.
      – Ven. Ananda then had a seed of the Bodhi Tree brought to Jetavanarama and planted so that it would be, as the Buddha himself said, as if the Buddha were constantly present at Jetavanarama.

      If anyone knows which sutta it is, please provide the name.

    • #22656
      y not
      Participant Kalinga Bodhi Jataka

    • #22660

      Thank you, y not!

    • #22672

      Hi Lal, Y not and everyone!
      For those who have an old version of the browser, it is better to access the legacy version and the Link is: With much Metta to all !

    • #22680

      Thank you, Lair!

    • #22687

      Hi Lal!
      I am very, very happy because everything in the site is working very well again!
      Thank you very much Lal and everyone..
      With much Metta to all

    • #22823

      I totally agree. Trying to make everyone else see your point of view is one of the biggest pitfalls we could fall in to. I have experienced that if We let go and live our life we will travel further. Moreover, when they see the change in us they are more likely to ask us what we are doing. They are more likely to listen to us when they see the progress we have made and when we are not trying to force our opinion upon them. Definitely letting go is the way to go.

    • #22824

      Here’s a real life incident related to the devotees by a bhante during a Dhamma talk.

      There is this housewife who always hears a voice telling her to take a kitchen knife and rip open her daughter’s abdomen to see what’s inside. Strangely, this only happens when the housewife is doing house chores. Worse still, she had this urge to really do it! If not for her strong mind, she would have taken her daughter’s life already. Obviously, she was freaked out. She had to ‘fight’ the voice by singing out loudly in the house and everyone in her family thought she has gone mad. Subsequently, she went to seek medical and psychiatric help but to no avail. The psychiatrist diagnosed her of having severe depression. But she knows herself that she’s not. She told bhante that she cannot continue taking the anti-depression pills prescribed for her, else she will die. She had to increase the dosage from 20 to 25 pills a day. Then, bhante suggested to her to come to the monastery and become an anagārika (8-precept practitioner) during the vassa period in thailand, and transfer her accrued merits to the non-human who was causing her so much misery. After the vassa period ended, the housewife called bhante from home and told him that the voice has gone for good! That incident never relapse again. Luckily for the housewife, her creditor was willing to accept her merits and let her off. Bhante has related another incident whereby the creditor did not accept any form of payment and even the 4-bhikkhu Sangha was stopped from helping the debtor when the debtor invited the Sangha to his place for dana. These are the kind of events that, if we ourselves never experience before, it will be hard for us to believe.

      Sabbe Satta Kammasaka
      Beings are the owners of their actions

      Kamma dayada
      The heirs of their actions

      Kamma yoni
      All beings are the descendants of their own kamma

      Kamma bandhu
      Kamma alone is one’s real friend

      Kamma patisarana
      Kamma alone is the real Refuge of all beings

    • #22858

      Hi Johnny!
      Your comment was very good and I found very interesting and enlightening. I’ve thought very lightly on this subject, but I had no idea what it was or what? Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the rest of us. For me it was very helpful and explained some obscure points of my practice.
      I could see the immense value of Ariya Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness Meditation).For example because “metta bhavana” is a very good meditation and compassion with other living beings
      Ariya Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness Meditation)
      Thank you so much!
      May the blessings of the triple gem be with all of you always.
      With Much Metta for all of yoy

      • #22880

        Hi Lair!

        Don’t mention it. I just wish to share something that is happening in real life from a Dhamma perspective rather than from an entertainment one. There are people who do not believe in the existence of non-human and strange happenings. Of course we need to evaluate things logically as much as we possibly can. But some things are just beyond our logic. So, this kind of experience will actually help one to at least consider the co-existence of non-humans alongside humans and the animals instead of just denying it totally. Be it small or very meritorious deeds, we should always transfer merits to all beings as often as we can because we won’t know who have we offended in this long sansaric journey.

    • #22919

      Per original request by firewns, just published a post:
      Do Buddhists Pray and Engage in Idol Worshipping?

    • #22970

      Thank you very much for your post, Lal. It is helpful.

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